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Soccer World Cup Group D: Betting Preview and Predictions

| June 10, 2018 12:00 am PDT
Group D World Cup|Argentina World Cup Group D Review|Croatia World Cup Group D Review|Iceland World Cup Group D Review|Nigeria World Cup Group D Review

Group D of the 2018 soccer World Cup in Russia is one of the toughest to predict. For me, at least.

Argentina is a big favorite with the bookmakers and also with many pundits.

Neither Croatia, Nigeria, or Iceland can be considered a true underdog, though, and this group looks wide open to me.

Each of the teams has its own chances to progress. In fact, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if Lionel Messi and his Argentine teammates are going home after the group stage. It really is that close of a group.

The good news is that there are some interesting betting opportunities available here. Which ones should be taken advantage of? Let’s find out!

Here’s a look at the four teams in this group, with some analysis of their chances of progressing.

Argentina

Argentina World Cup Group D Review

Despite the abundance of talent in the Argentinian squad, the country was on the brink of missing the World Cup finals. They had to rely on a bit of magic from Lionel Messi in their final qualification game to book a place in Russia this summer.

This shouldn’t fool anyone, though. Argentina has reached the finals of the last 2 Copa Americas and the final of the World Cup in Brazil in 2014. Unfortunately for the nation, they lost on each occasion.

Messi was so heartbroken after the last defeat that he actually retired from international soccer. However, the little maestro decided to return and will be eager to complete his legacy by winning a World Cup.

A lot of people point at the lack of a major trophy with Argentina as the reason Messi is not the best player in history.

In his own country, he is not as beloved as the legendary Maradona. That could change, though, if he leads Argentina to glory this summer.

The criticism of Messi is unfair, in my view, as the great number 10 was one of the best players at the Brazil 2014 World Cup. He scored 4 goals and created many chances for his teammates, including a couple of good opportunities in the final.

The major problem of Argentina is that their other attacking players can’t show the same level as they do for their clubs. The likes of Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain, and Angel Di Maria are considered world-class but have yet to show it for their country. Not with any consistency, at least.

The question is if this will change in Russia. Argentina seems too good to get knocked out in the group stage, despite the tough competition.

The team is strong at the back and has exceptional talent up front. If Lionel Messi receives enough support, they might go all the way this time.

Still, the odds for Argentina winning the group are about fair. They will certainly want to avoid a potential clash with France in the last 16, so they will be doing their best to secure a top spot.

The other teams in Group D shouldn’t be underestimated, though.

Croatia

Croatia World Cup Group D Review

Every once in a while, there is a Balkan country that reaches the last 4 of the World Cup. Bulgaria did it in 1994, Croatia did the same in 1998, and Turkey was in the semis in 2002.

Maybe it’s time for that to happen again?

Croatia seems more than capable of reaching the knockout stage. The country has some exceptional players like Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic, both of whom have been consistent performers at international and domestic level.

In fact, you will struggle to find a weak position in the Croatian squad.

Croatia has a strong defense, a flexible midfield, and some clinical forwards. Most of the players come from good clubs competing in the best leagues across Europe, so they are used to playing at a high standard.

Coach Zlatko Dalic can switch the style depending on the opposition. I expect Croatia to play it safe and hit on the counter against Argentina and dictate the tempo against the other two countries in the group.

It’s no surprise to see the odds for Croatia to go through fixed at 1.42. I don’t see much value there, but winning the group is another story. The team will want to avoid France in the knockout stages, so they will fight hard for the first spot in the group.

Croatia has the potential to finish in front of Argentina, and the price of 3.25 seems too generous, in my opinion. This is certainly one of the best betting options for Group D.

Nigeria

Nigeria World Cup Group D Review

Nigeria has one of the most exciting young teams in the World Cup. The problem is that the squad might be too young to compete, especially in such a tough group.

I would say that the Super Eagles would’ve had a great chance under different circumstances, but the task ahead is probably too hard here.

One of the main reasons for that is the transitional period in the Nigerian squad. It relies on a lot of young players such as Alex Iwobi, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Francis Uzoho. They have the potential but are far from the finished article.

However, Coach Gernot Rohr will have SOME experience at his disposal. John Obi Mikel remains a valuable member of the team, while Victor Moses and Odion Ighalo can offer a potent threat in attack.

One of the other strengths of Nigeria is the decent partnership between Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong at the back. The lack of an experienced goalkeeper might be a problem, though.

All in all, it’s difficult to predict how Nigeria is going to perform in Russia.

This Nigerian team has potential; there’s no doubt about that. But will they fulfill it? It’s really tough to know, and the opposition they face in the group will certainly be a stern test.

Ultimately, their lack of experience will probably tell, and the African country is likely to miss out on going further.

Iceland

Iceland World Cup Group D Review

A country with a population of less than 350,000 must be doomed at the World Cup, right? Well, many believed that to be the case in Euro 2016, but Iceland reached the last 8 by beating England in the first round of the knockouts.

The small nation showed bravery that attracted many admirers from all over the globe. The march of the Vikings continued in the qualifying stages for the 2018 World Cup, as Iceland managed to top a group with the teams of Croatia, Ukraine, Turkey, and Finland.

I’ve got to admit this was a big shock to me, and this is the last time I underestimate the fierce Icelanders. Make no mistake, this is a team that will give its best and fight to the very end against any opposition they face.

The main advantage of Iceland will once again be their hard work and solid defense. However, with the likes of Gylfi Sigurdsson and Alfred Finnbogason in the squad, they will also prove to be a threat up front.

That threat will come primarily from set pieces, and I expect them to score some goals from corners and other dead-ball situations.

Unfortunately for Iceland, the group is probably a bit too hard. Both Argentina and Croatia seem significantly stronger on paper, and Nigeria is no joke, either.

The Key Match in Group D

You probably sense where my main bet will be at this point, so I will have to pick Argentina against Croatia as the key clash in Group D.

Argentina plays Croatia on Thursday, June 21st.

One among Croatia and Argentina SHOULD win this group, and both teams would love to avoid France in the last 16. I’m expecting (hoping?) to see some exceptional soccer and a tight battle.

However, I must note that I will watch ALL of the action in this group. It’s among the most unpredictable groups in the whole tournament, which should result in very enjoyable matches.

Final Prediction and Picks

Both Nigeria and Iceland offer tempting odds to go through to the knockout stages. I feel it wouldn’t be a mistake to give them a shot with a small amount of cash, especially when it comes to the European team.

The Vikings have shown they are the masters of upsetting the odds already, and a price of 4.25 could bring a solid profit.

Still, my main wager would be to back Croatia to win the group. The country has a balanced squad with a lot of experienced players, as well as some uprising youngsters.

Sure, they will have to top Lionel Messi’s Argentina, but the South American giants have struggled more than once in the early stages of big tournaments like the World Cup. The odds of 3.25 seem too good to miss, in my opinion.

They suggest a probability of just over 30%, while I can see the chances of Croatia at close to the 35% mark.

Croatia to Qualify from Group D.

More Group D Related Betting

You probably noticed, but I really rate Croatia. In fact, the country is featured in my list of nations that could surprise anyone at the World Cup.

Feel free to check which are the other teams I see as a bigger threat than most people believe.

Another post that you might find interesting is the one dedicated to betting on the top country by continent. I feel Argentina has a strong case for South America, and there are also some other tasty value bets in there.

Group D might be a tough one to call, but there’s definitely some betting value to be found here. Will I be able to say the same about Group E? Check back tomorrow to find out!

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Jerry Summer

Jerry Summer has a wide-ranging interest in gambling and the gambling industry. He's made a living out of both playing poker and betting on sports.

The English Premier League and the NBA are among Jerry's primary areas of expertise. He's knowledgeable about many other sports, too, along with poker and several casino games.

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